Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Poobah fraternity suspended during student protest


The Dean of Students Office suspended the fraternity Phi Omega Phi (Poobah) on Friday, Feb. 21 due to violations of Augustana’s code of conduct policy.
The decision to suspend the fraternity resulted from an investigation that began 12 days ago, when a slideshow was shown at Poobah informal rush with female breasts and buttocks. 
During this investigation, the Dean’s office interviewed 23 different students over 19 meetings, resulting in the decision to suspend the fraternity, according to Dean of Students Wes Brooks.
“The decision to suspend is entirely about the well-being and wellness of the Augustana community. It’s my responsibility as the Dean of Students to ensure an inclusive, safe, welcoming and comfortable environment for all students,” Wes Brooks said.
The Dean’s office’s decision to suspend the Poobahs is unrelated to the Title IX bias report submitted on Feb. 11. According to Brooks, there are separate teams dealing with both issues independently. 
The news of Poobah suspension was announced via email at 11:36 a.m., six minutes into a student-led sit-in protest in the Brew by the Slough. 
“I’m happy that the administration did something, but I’m kind of taking it with a grain of salt,” protest participant, senior Jack Harris said. “A lot of us are just expecting it to be a saving face maneuver where they get suspended and then they get to come back and act like…everything is fine.” 
For some students, the goal of the sit-in protest was about more than a suspension, instead calling for the Poobahs to be disbanded as a fraternity.
“I think the Poobahs have shown a pattern of not being able to improve after pushback, so I think the only reasonable next step is to disband their fraternity,” senior Jason Gende said. “I don’t necessarily think this [suspension] is going to be the end of the fight.”
“Just because they’re suspended doesn’t mean we’re going to stop,” First-year Anna Misener said. “There’s still a lot that needs to be done.”
As part of their suspension, the fraternity is currently entering a recertification process. The Poobahs will be required to fill out different questionnaires and documents about how the culture and expectations of their group align with that of the school. Topics like leadership, community service and social activity will be presented in a report to a review team. 
The review team, made up of three faculty, yet to be determined, will look at the report and determine the current standing of the group. It will take 4-8 weeks for the process to be complete. According to Dean Brooks, this recertification process is currently underway for the fraternity. Until that process is complete, the outcome is uncertain. 
“There are definitely some situations in which punitive measures are necessary in order for growth and development to occur, but education is always our goal in higher education and Augustana College,” Brooks said. 
The students at the protest expressed that the problem is broader than one isolated incident. 
“It’s not just their group, it’s Augustana as a whole,” senior Lily Ford said. “We want people to be held accountable.”
“Our next step is going within Greek Life and respectfully working with the OSL…to move forward with a more inclusive and welcoming Greek Life,” junior and leader of the sit-in protest, SophiaRose Brown, said.
Both students and administration are working to resolve issues surrounding this incident in a way that benefits the Augustana community.
“I recognize that not everyone has the same opinions, has the same feelings… but I do think that one thing that’s beautiful about Augustana College is that we all have the ability to care for one another,” Brooks said.
The Observer reached out to seven Phi Omega Phi fraternity members, all of which declined to comment.
 “My hope would be that I show care for all of our students that we want to make sure all students feel supported during this situation and throughout anytime throughout their time at Augustana College,” Brooks said. 
With contributions from Katie Hogan.

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Poobah fraternity suspended during student protest